They are found closer to shore than other warehou species. They are common in cooler waters off the South Island, at depths of 20 to 200 metres, and in Cook Strait. Blue warehou are migratory, and there can be variations in appearance at different locations.
Blue warehou are dark bluish-green above, somewhat iridescent, with a silvery white underside, small dark head, and a blackish spot by the pectoral fin. Blue warehou have a deep, plump body, and a long, pointed pectoral fin that reaches back to the start of the anal fin. Juveniles have additional spots. The species is distinguished from other warehou by colour and fin characteristics.
Blue warehou are members of the Centrolophidae family (raftfishes, medusafishes).
Spawning occurs off the west coast of the South Island (August to September), Kaikoura (March to May), Southland (November), and Hawkes Bay (September). Blue warehou grow rapidly and live for about 10 years. They are also found off the south coast of Australia.
Annual landings of blue warehou were generally less than 100 tonnes up to the early 1960s. By the early 1970s they had increased to around 1,000 tonnes, peaked at 4,387 tonnes in 1983-84 and declined steadily until the late 1980s. Since then, catches have fluctuated between 1,500 and 5,101 tonnes. The Ministry for Primary Industries' draft fisheries plan considers blue warehou as stocks for which fishing pressure is relatively low. If the catch of blue warehou were to decline over three consecutive years in a quota management area, then the total allowable catch would be considered for review.
Blue warehou are caught throughout the year, mainly by trawl but sometimes by coastal set nets.
With a medium-low oil content, blue warehou is best used in moist dishes such as chowders, stews, curries or marinated. It is one of the mainstays of fish and chips. Blue warehou flesh maintains its flavour well and retains its shape. Blue warehou is particularly delicious as a smoked fish. Also try it in a casserole or curry, fried, poached, steamed or marinated.
Buying & Storage Tips
When buying whole blue warehou, always check the...
EYES: Bright and clear cornea, shiny black pupil
GILLS: Rosy pink pastel coloured gills
SKIN: Bright, with a luminous sheen
When buying blue warehou fillets, always check the...
FLESH: semi-transparent and glossy
If the fish looks sticky or mushy then it is not fresh.